Catherine: Full Body Review — Going on a Second Date
Catherine: Full Body is a complete package that's great for both newcomers and returning fans alike.
Almost nine years after the original Catherine launched, Atlus has returned to the puzzle-based drama with tons of new content, but most importantly, a new character for Vincent to fall for, quite literally. Does all of the new content make this cult classic worth revisiting? Yes. The new additions not only make the game more memorable, but it also panders to the fans and adds a lot of longevity to the title with new online offerings.
Catherine is interesting because it launched in 2011 and developed a cult following of competitive players. Of course, a lot of people love this game’s story and it’s still great in Catherine: Full Body, but what’s most fascinating is those who began competing via the game’s puzzle mechanics. The title even would go on to make appearances at EVO albeit not on the grander stage like the conventional fighting game lineup.
In Catherine: Full Body, Atlus has included an online mode with ranked leaderboards and various matchmaking options. So even when players are done with the game’s story, they can go back for more and master the puzzle mechanics. While the story does include a new character as well as a remixed option for fans returning to the game, many will probably be interested in diving straight into competitive matches. Couch co-op also returns with the addition of new private matchmaking so you and a friend can work together or fight one another in Catherine: Full Body.
The story in Catherine: Full Body has many parts that have remained largely untouched. The plot follows a young man named Vincent Brooks who’s having second thoughts about marriage and his relationship with his current girlfriend Katherine. After an odd encounter with another girl named Catherine, Vincent ends up cheating and finding himself in a struggle where he has to hide this from Katherine and ultimately decide what he wants to do. All of this is happening while many men in the world begin to die in their sleep.
Vincent finds himself entering a dream world that has him reflecting on his decisions every night. Also, he happens to take on a certain appearance that’s relative to a sheep, which is symbolic of the game’s story. It’s in this dream world where Vincent has to climb and solve various puzzles to awaken alive the next day. It’s not hard to piece together early on that this world also has something to do with the reoccurring deaths. What’s interesting is that Vincent never really realizes he’s in this dream world so it almost creates two separate entities for the same character.
For those that would rather opt for the more erotic Catherine or the Katherine you’d feel more comfortable taking home to your parents, Atlus has included two new alternate endings for those characters. However, as previously mentioned, all of the original endings are included. Rin’s inclusion in the plot is set up right from the get-go as she’s quickly introduced in an opening cutscene.
Rin’s storyline is by far more lighthearted than both Catherine and Katherine’s stories. After Vincent encounters Rin at the beginning of the game, he helps her get a job at the Stray Sheep, the bar where he’s a regular. She’s ultimately an effective character that changes the tone of the story in specific moments, especially with some of her endings. Rin also helps Vincent in the dream world where he’ll be completing puzzles. She essentially acts as a random ability that’ll give Vincent assistance when the puzzles get tougher.
In typical Atlus fashion, Catherine: Full Body is brimming with style and some tunes that even go as far as to rival the iconic music of the Persona series. The visuals and storyline also bounce off one another with some intense undertones revolving around love and the struggles that come with it. At its core, Catherine: Full Body’s story is about how we change over time with our partners and what the whole concept of settling down means for a person. It does have a couple of sillier moments, but for the most part, the story offers some dramatic turns throughout that’ll keep newcomers and returning players enamored throughout its runtime.
Decision making in Catherine: Full Body is pretty interesting. Players will have to answer questions about love and how they feel about certain qualities of a relationship before entering each puzzle level. Atlus even goes as far as showing the player what others have chosen by gender. These decisions will ultimately change the direction of the story and what happens with Vincent and his complicated relationships.
My one gripe with the decision making boils down to the fact that it’s ultimately done outside of the story. There are a handful of moments where players can text each of the girls and this will also affect the in-game Karma Meter. Still, it never really feels super meaningful. All of these choices essentially determine Vincent’s attitude towards the drama going on around him in the real world.
As previously mentioned, Catherine: Full Body includes a remixed mode that changes some of the block types in every mission. I decided to opt for the classic puzzles in my first playthrough but did dive into some of the remixed stuff afterward. This mode adds a bit more challenge as the blocks that are included will force players to think differently about how they climb. Overall, it’s a nice inclusion and great for returning players that have stuck with the original game for so long.
Between puzzles and beautifully animated cutscenes, players will be spending a lot of time at the bar. Here you can interact with Vincent’s closest friends as well as many other patrons who all seem to have relationship issues of some sort. There’s a cool little minigame here that’s pretty similar to the actual puzzles players will encounter as well as a jukebox which contains tunes from the main game as well as the Persona series. Of course, I found myself listening to Beneath The Mask from Persona 5 more times than one. Players can also choose how much they decide to drink that evening, which in turn affects how fast Vincent will climb in the dream world that night.
Catherine: Full Body could take anywhere from 12 to 20 hours for players to complete. Playtime will mostly be dependant on how deeply players explore some of the side content as well as the difficulty they decide to play on. For those looking to simply enjoy the storyline, Catherine: Full Body includes some easy options that’ll either eliminate some of the obstacles in puzzles or automatically climb for you. It’s certainly awesome to have these options but I’d personally suggest that those jumping in for the first time give the normal difficulty a try even if you’re somewhat intimidated. I don’t consider myself a big fan of puzzle games at all but there’s a lot of rewarding fun to be had when you figure out some of the tougher levels in the game.
Atlus has released a great package for a title that probably didn’t get as much love as it should have back when it first launched. From the puzzles, stylistic choices, and storyline Catherine: Full Body holds up even while it’s closing in on its ninth anniversary. This is a unique game that’s riveting throughout, I recommend it for newcomers and returning players alike.